Created: 01/06/2014 11:54 PM WNYT.com
By: Dan Levy
FONDA - Freezing cold temperatures have refueled the fight over allegations of animal abuse in Montgomery County, and now a judge has gotten involved.
That judge wants to hear from a controversial dog breeder Tuesday afternoon at 1:00 P.M. in his courtroom, a hearing that could result in the seizure of all 66 dogs from the man's property.
What to some people might appear to be dogs frolicking in the snow, is seen by others as abusive and unacceptable treatment at the Flat Creek Border Collies dog farm in Sprakers.
"How can no insulation in subzero temperatures equal adequate insulation for the climate?" asks Matthew Albert, one of two lawyers who will try to convince State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise on Tuesday that the dogs should be seized and turned over to the SPCA until the kennel owner upgrades the facilities and care on his farm.
"It's obvious to everyone, and yet some how that's not obvious to law enforcement," Albert continued.
State Police have been to the Rappa Road property on at least three occasions but found no violations. Veterinarian Caroline Ennis accompanied troopers late last week for about an hour long inspection.
During her examination of some of the animals last Friday night, Dr. Ennis said she found no evidence of disease or illness and no signs of frost bite or hypothermia. She was however concerned about the shelters in which the dogs were living, concluding that the blue plastic barrels were simply inadequate.
"The chance of 66 dogs dying is just unacceptable," Said Richard Rosenthal, another attorney for the plaintiffs.
Rosenthal accuses state police of lying when they say there are no violations on the property.
"It's easier to say there are no laws being broken then to actually go out and enforce the law," Rosenthal alleged.
Meanwhile, Eric Bellows, who was in court on Monday, says he'll be one of many animal rights activists to attend Tuesday's hearing, intent on convincing the judge to bring the dogs in out of the cold.
"The best possible resolution would be to allow us to help the dogs," Bellows says, "I don't want to see all those dogs go back there because nobody should have that many animals especially on a one acre lot."
Dr. Ennis points out some dogs have thick coats that can withstand cold temperatures and it's a judgment call which breeds can live comfortably in the cold.
She says seven if the judge orders seizure of the animals, that may or may not be in the best interest of the dogs. It's a difficult puzzle to solve, she says.